Stalking the deep with NATO’s mine hunters
Sea mines are devastating weapons. Cheap to produce and relatively easy to field, they can make shipping lanes and straits impassable to military and civilian maritime traffic. Even the threat of sea mines can bring economies to a standstill.
To address the threat of sea mines, the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups (SNMCMGs) patrol the Alliance’s waters 365 days a year. In this piece, the commander of SNMCMG2, which is currently charged with securing the Mediterranean Sea region, explains how NATO counters the danger of sea mines, and also how the flotilla provides a humanitarian service by neutralising unexploded ordnance from conflicts past.
The four Standing Maritime Groups are multinational, integrated maritime forces made up of vessels from allied countries. These vessels are under continuous NATO command to perform a wide range of tasks ranging from deterrent presence and situational awareness to exercises and the conduct of operational missions. These groups provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability both in peacetime and in crisis.
These four groups comprise the core of the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), providing timely maritime support to NATO operations in a contingency.